I find Dungeness a highly productive but frustrating site- today it was windy, the sun was right in front of me and making the Gulls look different and I got a moan from my parents every time I requested another part of Dungeness!
Ok, lets get this over and done with, you may have read before that the following disasters have taken place involving my equipment, here is the story so far:
29th December 2007: Dad drops the D80 with the 500mm lens onto solid stone stairs as we were taking stuff to the car for our stay in Manchester.
30th December 2007 AM: The laptop crashes in the hotel, therefore disconnecting me from the birding world (other than good old Bird News Anywhere from Birdguides) and waisting £25 that we had paid for the week's internet in the hotel.
PM: I foolishly lean the tripod with my new video camera against the car, with the legs folding in,it topples over; samshing the camera.
13th January 2008: I climb up the sea wall at Dungeness with strong gales coming at my face (and tripod) from the sea. I see a Gannet and write it down in my notebook, turning away from my scope- you guessed it- the scope falls over! And no, its not just an unlucky fall, the eyepiece adjuster (glasses/non-glasses thing) come loose (AGAIN!!!!!!!!) But that is not all- the focus stops at near infinity, making it frustratingly just out of focus and sort like a double image when seawatching.
So that is the updated story!
So, I scan the sea with my now capput scope, trying to make out the distant Auks, the broken scope making it even more difficult to ID as they zoom past. One passed close-by though, allowing a positive ID and a decent focus- Guillemot. After this loads more were seen. It was impossible to see whether they had dark armpits or not with them flapping so much and the poor optics.
I moved on to the reserve, deciding to ditch the Long- pits idea because I simply had no idea where they were and whether it was alright to walk across the 'desert' off track.
The trip to the reserve began with a surprise from the visitor centre - Shag, on an island (below)! This is my first good view and a quality 2008 tick. See the videos link on the left hand side near the top of the site to see a video of this bird.
Then I was directed to some Smew and Goosander over at another island- two more 2008 birds in the bag. (Smew video on videos blog, see links).
There were a few Goldeneye around too. Other wildfowl included Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail Wigeon and Pochard.
On the way from the Makepeace hide to the Scott hide there was a male Smew just over the bank that a man pointed out.
From the Scott hide there were a few Ruddy Ducks and four Red Crested Pochards.
After this we left the reserve and as the light faded we went down Dengemarsh road, hoping for some Bewick's Swans, of course no luck. But I think I saw a Barn Owl, but I can't be sure so I haven't added it to my year list. It was a white bird flying quite rapidly, less floaty than a Gull and it suddenly stopped and landed on the ground. By this time all the Gulls were at the roost so I suppose it must have been. It didn't re-appear after it dropped down though so I couldn't confirm it- aarg.
A day of various emotions- after we send the scope off all I will have is a mighty midget scope and a pair of dirty, falling apart binoculars... oh well....
Videos on youngbirdersvideos.blogspot.com